When I woke up way, too early on Friday morning, my plans were to head across the country to Cincinnati for HorrorHound, a comic con. I had been planning this, not too long, but was very excited about seeing friends and a few celebrities. However, as all good plans go, things shifted literally in mid-air. The main celebrity I was going to see had taken ill, and was no longer going to be at the con. Of course, the first feeling that I experienced was disappointment. I had intended to see my friends and enjoy this time at the con with their guests. But as I thought more about it, and was helped along with a flight change issue anyway, I realized my choices were endless. Many of my friends, including those I was staying with, had planned to be there to see him and were looking to change their plans as well, so I had to make a decision about whether I was going to fly all the way across country or take a detour. My first inkling was to turn around and go home, but I resisted that.

As fate would have it, my layover was in Denver. Denver is a hub for a lot of travel. In addition to that, the bestie, Julie, also lives in Denver. I had no idea, but she had plans to be in another state at the same time. She was on her way to the airport and we decided to abandon our original plans in favor of a spontaneous trip to wherever we felt like going. Once I realized my options, I entertained just about any corner of the United States. If I had brought my passport, I probably would’ve flown internationally. Yes, I realize that’s really ridiculous considering I had two days, but the world was my playground. I threw some ideas to Julie and she reminded me that a plane was not the only option for travel. Enter the rental car.

A few weeks ago after a family trip to Las Vegas where my son saw Nevada for the first time, he asked me how many states I had visited and which states were left. We got online and did an interactive map so we could see the visual. Travel is important to me, and at this point, I had traveled to almost 40 states. The only state in the west or southwest that I had not been to at that time was New Mexico. Fortunately, New Mexico was within driving distance from Denver. So we began our adventure with an open schedule and no set destination in mind.

We had a long drive ahead of us, but we decided to enjoy the quality time and make the best of it by looking for a fun hotel and things to do that weekend. We fueled up for the adventure by visiting our go-to whenever we’re together – The Cheesecake Factory, which never disappoints.

While on the road, we searched for new places, including restaurants, as well as most famous/world’s best destinations where we could stop. After seeing the list of Guy Fieri’s “Diner, Drive-Ins, and Dives” recommended restaurants, we mapped to our first stop, Del Charro Saloon, in downtown Santa Fe. We enjoyed the ambiance and food, but the drinks knocked us off our feet-which was necessary after a 6 hour drive.

We spent the night in a nice little hotel in the downtown District. The elevators smelled of rich mahogany reminding us of Anchorman. We were beat, so we went straight to bed after strategizing on options for the morning.

After a decent nights sleep, we were off for day two. We decided to keep to our fangirl ways and travel to a destination that’s near and dear to our R&B loving hearts. That destination was White Sands National Park. The idea struck us when looking at interesting places to visit in New Mexico, and I immediately remembered the Boyz II Men “Water Runs Dry” music video that takes place in the national park. In the video, the boys are seen pouring their hearts out amongst the white sand alongside a string orchestra. We both have fond memories of this video from our childhood and since that time, this location has been a bucket list item. One that has never been an option in the past.

The park was 4 hours from Santa Fe. We arrived and checked out the visitor center, which featured all the travel souvenirs one could desire. While in the visitor center, we were able to watch a short film on the National Park and found out some interesting facts about the sand being made of gypsum, which gave it its white color. It was during the movie that a light bulb went off in each of our heads. We realized that the park parallels the song title for the Boyz II Men music video shot there-Water Runs Dry. As the history lesson goes, a few thousand years ago, the park was filled with water. The lake was massive and had many inhabitants. With time, the water dried up and what is now left, is 227 square miles of white sand with only a small lake left behind. Each year, the water rises and then dries out again, in smaller amounts, leaving what we see today.

We couldn’t help but wonder about the origins of the Boyz II Men song after hearing that, and realized that whoever pitched that music video treatment must have been up on their geographical history to suggest White Sands specifically for this song. A quick Google search shows that Wayne Isham directed the video, but very little else can be found as far as how this video came to be. One of the mysteries we still need to solve from this visit.

After spending some time learning about these historical facts and contemplating Boyz II Men discography, we entered the park to do the 8 mile Dunes Drive. Of course we had Water Runs Dry on repeat as our soundtrack as we drove. We were in awe as we drove further into the park, seeing the beauty that this white sand brought. We oooed and ahhhed as we watched others parking for picnics, sledding down the sand, off roading in their mini vehicles, and generally exploring the area.

We decided to partake and pulled over. We took our shoes and socks off, hoping to feel our toes in the beautiful sand. We wandered over to a hill and climbed up the sand, our feet sinking in as we did. We were immediately hit with the feeling of serenity and peace in this gorgeous place. We made it to the top of the hill and took in our surroundings. We scanned the vast area around us, seeing nothing but white sand for days. We laid down making “sand angels” in the soft ground. We had no choice but to recreate some of the Water Runs Dry music video, which we laughed about. Then we just sat for a few minutes, a sense of relief, relaxation, and calm taking over as we breathed in the clear air.

What a powerful experience when you succumb to nature. The natural beauty is astounding. The peace that it can bring can be life-changing if you let it. I couldn’t help but sit in this space, quietly pushing thoughts from my mind in favor of embracing the nature around me. It was refreshing. It was rejuvenating.

After our short stop, we got back in the car, shaking the sand off us, and resumed our drive. We drove in and out of a few more areas on the 8 mile drive, still in awe of our surroundings. As we turned the corner to begin the trek out, we noticed the sky’s opening up from the cloudy overcast it had held before. The color of the sky, a mix of blues and pinks, over the white sand, reminding us again of the phenomenon that is Mother Nature.

We watched as the sand began to fade, listening now to the full Boyz II Men playlist, and feeling grateful to have had a random travel adventure to one of the most beautiful places on earth.